Where have you gone? You were here until last week but I can’t find you now. I’ve looked and looked. Sometimes I catch a quick glimpse of your face in the shadows, but then it fades to nothing and disappears.
It’s strange not having you around. We’ve been friends forever, best friends I like to think. You were my Bob Marley buddy, always singing in my ear ‘Baby, don’t worry ‘bout a thing, cos every little thing’s gonna be a’right’. And I would then sing those words in turn to my nearest and dearest, to my friends, to my colleagues. I honestly believed their truth and I tried to make others believe it too, even if some surely considered me as a naive, idealistic moron.
But I’m not singing now. I can’t without you here to remind me of the lyrics. And I don’t even remember the tune.
Worse than that, Pessimism came to the door the other night and just let himself in without knocking. He sat down in your place and started whispering in my ear. Your voice is sweet and kind but his is cold and grating. He says things you would never have said. He talks of horror and fear and widespread death. He says this will go on for months, maybe years, not just a couple of weeks as we’ve been told. He says we’ll run out of food, and won’t be able to shop. He says the walks around the block will end and I will have to pace the perimeter of our dark green prison hedge. He says I won’t see my youngest in the flesh for longer than my brain can accept. Or my parents, or sister or anyone at all who counts in my life. He says maybe I’ll never leave this house again and if I do, it may be in a screeching white van. Then he grabs my throat and squeezes hard, whereas you used to stroke my cheek.
I don’t want him here. He’s giving me nightmares and a tightness in my chest that scares me more than his words. He’s causing havoc in my head and ripping my serenity to pieces. He’s pulling the walls in closer and closer every minute of every long day and I can’t push them back, so just watch them draw nearer, inch by tiny inch.
But I can’t get rid of him without your help. You’re the only one who can kick him out. You were always stronger than him, and bigger and better. You always knew what to say to keep him at bay. I know you can fight him off for as long as this may take.
So I’m begging you, come home now, please.
Wait, wait, wait, I can see you! Outside the front door, clapping. Clapping as loudly as you possibly can. Clapping in thanks with us and our neighbours and the whole of this shut-down town. As the noise grows louder I can feel your breath on my face, your shoulder against my shoulder, your fingers wiping away my tears. I can see your soft smile and hear your gentle humming begin, as we clap and clap and clap till our hands turn the brightest shade of pink.
Welcome back, my dearest friend. Don’t ever leave me again.